Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Looking For Alaska

Looking For Alaska handles themes too mature for my middle school library. Read it before adding it to your shelf, not only for content, but also because it is truly awesome.

John Green is the master of young male dialogue. Parents: if you want to know what your teenage son talks about with his friends, look no further. Green's characters are always the funny, slightly awkward guy with a heart of gold. As in Paper Towns, the main character, Miles, is obsessed with a quirky and destructive girl, this time named Alaska Young.

Looking For Alaska is set in a boarding school, one of my favorite locations. The removal of parents and the need to drive anywhere really speeds up a narrative, in my opinion. Miles begins at Culver Creek by falling in with a crowd of hilarious misfits: the Colonel, Takumi, and the always reckless Alaska. These are the friends that you wish you had in high school, inspiring pranks, sharing literature and trivia, and seeking adventure at every turn.

Green's story counts down to a tragedy and then counts back away from it, a narrative device that goes practically unnoticed until you have reached the climax and are on the other side of what will be the pivotal event in the characters' young lives. The plot of the novel is entertaining, but the true beauty of Looking For Alaska is in the small moments that Green absolutely nails.

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